You’ve probably heard older people talk about the “good old days.” But were they really all that good? Were people and ideas all that different? How did the good old days become today?
To answer questions like these, you’ll need to look for clues -- and not only in textbooks filled with dates and biographies. As a history major, you’ll find history in everything from a 1956 Elvis Presley poster to a 1934 ticket stub showing the price of a movie. You’ll even find it in last summer’s playlist of your favorite songs.
By the time you graduate, you’ll know how to decide for yourself what to think about the old days -- good or bad. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll learn what those days can teach us about today and tomorrow.
History majors learn how to interpret objects and written documents from the past. They also read the works of published historians and evaluate their ideas.
“By mastering history you become a well-rounded person with a better understanding of cultures and trends.”Zach, sophomore, French, history, and journalism, Northwestern University
Are You Ready To...?
- Learn a language
- Spend a semester away from your campus to do research
- Participate in class discussions
- Use your reading to form your own ideas
- Read -- history classes often require hundreds of pages a week
It Helps To Be...
Curious, organized, and a good reader and writer. You’ll do well as a history major if you’re able to take details and use them to draw a “big picture” of the past.
- Will you be able to study the areas of history in which you are most interested?
- Does the department focus mainly on traditional history, or is cultural history also included?
- Does the library have the academic journals and up-to-date multimedia resources (film, video, photos) that serious history majors need?
- Are there opportunities for internships and research experience with a local historical society or museum?
Did You Know?
History majors are often required to write a senior thesis (large research paper).
History majors are often required to take a course in research methods. This is the class where you’ll learn how to be a historian. You’ll learn where to find information, how to decide if a source is reliable, and how to compare different sources.
One assignment you might have is to put together a bibliography of sources on a specific subject. With this class under your belt, you’ll be ready to jump into your own research.